Sunday, January 31, 2010

Just, wow, Bad Lieutenant

wtf is this?

Went ahead and saw Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans as planned at scenic Cinestudio with some film enthusiast company. We were... stultified. I have never said that word out loud before, but tells me it means exactly what I think it means. So I'm pretty excited about my taste in words and movies at the moment.

Putting aside the completely arbitrary relationship between this film and the original Bad Lieutenant, this new one is so bizarre, awkwardly paced and shot, and with a plot and outcome that seem to offer no moral or lesson, or even anything at stake in the way of emotional involvement for the viewer... And yet it is simultaneously glorious - so over-the-top ridiculous at the, uh, multiple climaxes of Nic Cage's crazyeyed portrayal of drug-fueled cop corruption, and strange "artistic" digressions involving iguanas and other reptiles, which you may have read about in reviews, but which will nevertheless surprise (even stultify) you. Between the stylistic strangeness and the gratuitous on-screen drug consumption, we left feeling a little flash back-y. That's impressive. Of course, it's probably different for chemical virgin viewers. Oh well.

I don't want to give everything away. I've said it before, I don't like spoilers, even late ones. Just know that this movie is a strange trip you want to see through. There's some very clunky bits, but the freakshow and trainwreck appeal win out in the end, as the insanity quotient pretty much cranks exponentially in the second half. Sadly, two nights at Cinestudio seem to have been it for BL:POCNO in our area, so I don't know when or where you'll see this, but I'm giving it two snaps up, a twist and a kiss.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Badder Lieutenant: Anybody seen it?

While we understand the perspective that this Nic Cage vehicle is an automatic blaspheme, an unnecessary or irrelevant or untimely... Remake? Re-imagining? Sequel? Whatever it is or isn't, it's directed by venerable Werner Herzog, who made an intriguing case for his film in a recent AV Club interview. In spite of the general irritation and mediocre reviews his awkwardly titled Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans has inspired, Herzog manages to come across as both self-aware and yet utterly misguided about the whole affair:
It was a great joy to make this film, and there was a feeling of something hilarious at the same time. Whenever we started a scene, we kind of knew deep inside that it was going to be hilarious... When you see the film with the audience, there’s more laughter than in an Eddie Murphy comedy.
Doesn't that make you curious?

Obviously we didn't rush out to see this movie upon its release, but we may take the belated opportunity this weekend at Trinity College's picturesque Cinestudio.

CT Scenic giving up on CT (Music) Scene

There is basically no musical performer we are excited about coming to the state for, like, months. So we have to broaden our horizons, commit our paychecks to more worldly ventures... We're talking about going to NYC, of course - to see the Murder City Devils, who we were just getting all excited about all over again, thanks to iPod shuffling during a funny thing called exercise, and didn't even realize at first that they have reunited for gigs and (according to wikipedia) upcoming new music! OMFG

A few things we love about this band:

Singer sounds drunk, all the time.
Obsessed with sailors, truckers, drinking, life on the road, cheating, murder.
Organ lines (by hot punk chick Leslie Hardy) make this otherwise garage-y band sound epic, classic.
Giving us the lyric "subtle like a t-rex."

The Murder City Devils will perform at the Nokia Theatre Feb. 13, with something called Feral Children.

Here they are performing one of our favorite songs:

Monday, January 25, 2010

You: Coveting my hat by Sorellee

Check out my gorgeous new hat, which was custom made for me by Barbara of Sorellee Designs, West Hartford based wool artists. If you want to rock the elder lady chic like me, peruse their website for something you like. Sister hatmakers Barbara and Linda can custom make hats to order and accessorize custom or preexisting hats with brims and feathers and other fun ornamentation. Most of their hats are $45 or $55. I am hoping the winter weather can get it's shit sorted soon so I can get back to wearing this baby out.

A Lifetime Original: The Pregnancy Pact

If you've been watching Project Runway, and I assume you have, you have probably delighted in the onsalught of ads for Lifetime's newest masterpiece, The Pregnancy Pact. We can also assume that most of you had better things to do this weekend than actually watch such guilty pleasures. We, however, took one for the team... or rather, took two for the team, as we watched the PP double-feature last night. That's right. Once was not enough.

The movie is pretty much what you think it is. A dramatic and ridiculous account of the highschool pregnancy epidemic that hit Gloucester, MA in 2008. Apparently the film has sparked some internet debate over the many controversial topics covered in this instant-classic. Reproduction fans everywhere are asking the questions that the film fails to answer: How much of the story is true? Why did the girls make the pact? Where are they now? We were more concerned with a number of other queries: How do I know if my girlfriend is trying to have my baby? What happened to Thora Birch's career? When does the sequel come out???

Don't worry, there is another showing of The Pregnancy Pact tonight at 9pm!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Phallic Artistry: Still on view at RAW

Well, if you're a local friend of CT Scenic, then chances are you've probably already had your fill of dick at Real Art Ways, where the Rockstone & Bootheel: Contemporary West Indian Art, which runs through mid-March, has been on display for months already. Because this exhibit includes a whole lot of actual, definite, explicit representations of peen in several works, it seemed unnecessary to point out some of the more subtle, ambiguous ones. But what the hell, we enjoyed them one more time this past week at the Creative Cocktail Hour (check out the sexy people pictures on our Facebook). Without further ado:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Not To Hear: Vampire Weekend

Some pop culture artifacts are so mindless and dumb they aren't even worth acknowledging with a snotty blog post, but Vampire Weekend doesn't just have the top album in the country right now, they are also critical darlings. When actually they suck. I don't know when I've heard a more bafflingly annoying song than "Cousins." (Seriously, wtf is this guy on about?) At first I thought this band was pleasantly twee; this feels like a pretentious quirkfest.

Further, they have drawn comparisons to Paul Simon from such disparate outlets as the AV Club and our own Hartford Advocate (who has prematurely ejaculated them the top albums of the year list). Yeah, Paul Simon. Of the many classic artists I was subjected to as a child on interminable car ride singalongs to poorly dubbed cassettes, which time and maturity have since vindicated, Paul Simon has proved an irredeemable stinker. This is like a few years ago, when suddenly it was hip to sound like the Eagles. I mean, really?

Ugh, and if I have to hear another word about how these guys make "literary" music because they attended Columbia University. Yay, liberal arts. Yeah, public school teachers are real intellectual giants. When was the last time you listened to "literary" indie rockers, the Decemberists? That's right, you've since thought better of it.

Keep off the bandwagon. Avoid embarrassing downplaying and justification later by not loving this tripe up now.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Variations in G (Guacamole, that is)

Inspired by my recent adventures in food service, and my current commitment to relatively healthy eating, I decided to experiment in the kitchen. Target: Guacamole. Which you basically can't screw up, since it involves no actual cooking and just smooshed avocados without any augmentation would taste fine. (This is the conspiracy of guacamole of course, which you pay top dollar for in restaurants, far above what you would shell out for simply smooshed avocados.)

You may have already read that I'm into juice; I also fancy myself something of a salad connoisseur. So I couldn't just make a simple traditional guacamole. I used three avocados and assorted other produce to make three creative guacs, or two creative ones and one standard, actually. All start from a base of avocado, lemon juice and fresh cilantro. Here is the "standard," which includes onion, tomato, pepper, and a touch of salt:

Behold the trio:

To the left is a "fruited" guacamole, made with mango and blackberries, for a sweeter interpretation, ripped off wholesale from West Hartford Center fancy Mexican restaurant Besito, where they make up fresh for you it tableside - isn't that neat? On the right is my personal invention, which I brought in the juicer for. I guess I just wanted to add some more interesting color to this little exercise. I juiced a small amount of red beet, lime and ginger, and then just poured it in. Pretty! With a bit of zing.
(That's the zing in there)

Single in Hartford, New Haven

We already mentioned wanting to see "A Single Man," and now we can. Tom Ford's directorial debut, based on the Christopher Isherwood novel is now playing at Cinema City in Hartford and New Haven's Criterion Cinemas. The film has received excellent reviews, and promises to be both poignant and stylish. We're slightly bummed it won't be playing at our favorite destination, RAW - guess we'll have to sneak our own wine in for this one.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Girlfriend Cancelled Our Date, or, Lady Gaga Tourdates Cancelled

CT Scenic was deeply saddened to hear of Lady Gaga's show cancellations/postponements. If you live under a rock (or in CT) and haven't heard, Lady Gaga collapsed last night before her scheduled Purdue University concert. Doctors diagnosed her with "exhaustion and dehydration" and advised her to rest for a few days. As a result, Sunday's Oakdale show has been cancelled and Monday's Mohegan Sun show has been postponed, date TBA. I guess this means Ms. Gaga will have to wait a little longer to make out with her favorite CT blogger. Don't worry LG, I'm worth it.

In other Gaga news, some weirdo photographer made tiny doll clothes of LG's outfits. More pics here.

Music Weekend

These guys are OLD

As far as live music goes, the only game in town (state, actually) seems to be Manic Productions, which means that the only interesting national indie acts to play Connecticut play in scenic Milford, or other far-from-central parts. As enticing as the promise of all those mother's we'd like to you-know is, the former is a little far for us venture, even if Dinosaur Jr. is playing at Daniel Street (tonight). Also this weekend, Manic Productions presents Cable, maybe CT's only cool metal product, ever, at Cafe Nine in New Haven.
Trees are so metal

We sure wish some club from the Hartford area would start working with Manic. Unfortunately, a sustained relationship would hinge on people from the area coming out for something other than local jam rock heroes, and evidence from numerous poorly attended would-be hipster shows past at the Webster (including such bands as Nick Armstrong and the Thieves, Ambulance Ltd., Murder by Death, Low vs. Diamond) that these are not a profitable venture. Boo.

A few local favorites are playing this weekend: Stylish cockrockers The Kelvins at Sully's in Hartford this Saturday, and great northern southern rocker Matt Zeiner at Cherry Street Station in Wallingford, also Saturday. Making your Sat. plans is going to be like cutting your baby in half, obvs.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ample Legroom at Buckland Hills

Last week I saw Sherlock Holmes at Showcase Cinemas Buckland Hills. This movie was so mediocre it barely deserves mentioning - the cast and costumes were very attractive, but the script and plot were ridiculous and the overall sensibility was American Hollywood, not at all authentic British, so not at all what I would have hoped for. But I was very excited about the legroom.

The Showcase Cinemas in Manchester is a true monstrosity I would like to never visit again, packed with an endless variety of gross, grossly overpriced fast foods items, a bar, a zillion theatres with allegedly differing degrees of sound and viewing quality... Having been thwarted that evening by an overzealous traffic cop in what was actually an attempt to see The Road, I settled on Sherlock Holmes, because it was there, and looked less shitty than Avatar (which Jackie Scenic thoroughly enjoyed and may blog about some day).

SH turned to be playing in the "Director's Hall" which I think is slightly more expensive, and puts you through a ridiculous ritual of selecting an assigned seat, and then sending around an usher/waiter to ask you if you'd like to order any refreshments. Had the movie been better, it would have been so worth it, because the DH features super comfy chairs, and most importantly, lots of legroom. Ideal for the fidgety, slouchy movie-goer, who usually ends up rudely wedged against the next chair up (me).

Scene on Screen: Antichrist

Well I’m so glad I waited for the opportunity to see Antichrist on the big screen. A movie so visually striking, violent, and sexually graphic definitely deserves better than my little shitbox teevee, and a viewing Real Art Ways always feels like participating in the local culture, as well as the broader “cultural conversation” about this controversial film.

Like I said in my earlier post, I was prepared to be offended by this film, since some of the press about it alleged misogyny and even “unwatchable-ness.” But naturally gifted contrarian that I am, I have come to praise Antichrist, not to bury it. ; )

Firstly, I’d like to talk about all the sex and naked time. It is so refreshing to see bodies and sex uality that look convincing (real) on screen. This is in stark contrast to the ubiquitous airbrushed n’ photoshopped portrayal of bodies usually seen in everything from Playboy to so-called women’s magazines, or the slo-mo, pseudo-passionate, poorly simulated sex of Hollywood movies. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg both have distinctive, not conventionally beautiful features, but their on-screen sex, in spite of the total misery the movie wallows in, is extremely convincing and actually pretty hot, because I’m convinced that they are real people who have had actual sex before. You could probably call it pornographic, but that has kind of an ugly connotation for an arthouse feature (similarly, cheap genre label "horror" could be applied to the scenes of violence and foreboding wilderness).

Director Lars von Trier is definitely making some kind of grand statement about maleness and femaleness and human nature. But is what he is saying extra offensive to women? I don’t feel extra insulted. The female character happens to go completely berserk, commit terrible acts of violence, and feels incredibly conflicted about her identity and sexuality after the loss of her child, but is that really so farfetched? Especially when the male character is such a condescending douchebag. So if you want to read them as archetypes instead of individual characters (which you can definitely make a case for), then if woman is hysterical, man is a douchebag, which isn’t any better.

And let’s face it, no matter how feminist you feel, no matter how much equity should be striven for in certain aspects of cultural life, men and women cannot be the same with regard to reproduction, as women are still necessarily responsible for gestation, birth and breastfeeding. So there’s nothing wrong about women, real or on screen, feeling extra specially identified with and conflicted about their roles as mothers and sexual beings (versus male casual sperm donors), especially when faced with real or fictional tragedies (no matter how calculated) and/or arrogant intellectual douchebags. Or as I’ve always put it “boys have a penis and girls have a reproductive system.”

Towards the end of the film, Dafoe is wounded and struggling, and feels overwhelmed by the fecundity of nature around him in the woods, and has a vision of being descended upon by a hoard of women. But rather than get all offended by this, I’m going to go ahead and think, hey, that’s interesting that von Trier feels so intimidated by vaginas, but it’s ok, men and women really are different and it’s even ok for them to feel bitter or uncomfortable about it sometimes. I know I do!

I could say more, but this is plenty. Your thoughts? Anyone?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

This Freak-end in Hartford

Friday, Jan. 8: Ulteria "Fetish Fashion Night" @ The Webster, Hartford

Regrettably there is apparently never going to be another band* worth seeing the ol' Webster, but we are pleased that recent months have seen the return of goth/industrial/fetish fabulousness to our area to fill the void left by the demise of Bound, which was a very fun monthly party while it lasted. Um, not that we're into that stuff, of course, but you know, we have some really great black strappy items we'd like to wear out some time. How freaky is this party going to be, anyway? Well, freaky enough that their myspace is super secret. Meet us there for further investigation.

Ulteria also puts on a monthly dance/party in New Haven at Partners Cafe.

*Well, we'd consider the Alkaline Trio, but only if we were hard up and not paying for it.

Teatro: In the Heights

In the Heights opened Tuesday at The Bushnell. Opening night was packed with a refreshingly diverse audience, the majority of whom loved the show.

The play was written here in CT by Lin-Manual Miranda while he was a student at Wesleylan University. It worked its way to Broadway, opening in 2008 at The Richard Rogers Theater. In the Heights has received 13 Tony nominations and won 4 awards, including best musical, original score, choreography and orchestration.

The story follows three days in the life of a Dominican-American neighborhood in Washington Heights, New York City. The show features a hot young cast who sing, rap and dance their way through the emotional saga which unfolds; the characters' struggle to fulfill their life ambitions while coming to terms with their place in el barrio. It's not the most unique story, but the characters are charming and the music is engaging. The soundtrack, as well as the dancing, is a blend of hip-hop, salsa, merengue and reggaeton.

This was definitely one of the hipper events I've been to at the Bushnell, the best part being the hot chick selling programs in the aisles of Mortenson Hall. It was obvious that the play's Spanglish dialogue was appreciated, considering Hartford has a large Spanish-speaking poplulation who are not generally the target of the Bushnell's programming. Oh, and their merch is totally hot. You may just want to hang out in the lobby and buy t-shirts.

In the Heights is at the Bushnell through 1/10/09. Tix are $15-$72.

Monday, January 4, 2010

What's Hot at the Lot: French Soda

Rieme "sparkling limonade" from France is $2 a bottle right now at the Lot, with flavors including blood orange and grapefruit. The ingredients are few and natural, and the flavors and carbonation are just right - not to strong or sweet, and the sweetener is beet sugar, not that high fructose corn syrup crap. An ideal drink for the soda elitist.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Very West Hartford Christmas

I celebrated Christmas this year in scenic WeHa.

Kosherland was kind of a bust. It was supposed to mimic Candyland, but there were no Kosher cards. You just spin the wheel and hop around on the board, stopping to visit Bubby and the Matzah Man. On the other hand, what was seemingly the most useless invention of 2009 has turned out to be quite a fruitful commodity. The Snuggie has already helped me through some tough times: I did a crossword puzzle, ate potato chips and harvested my Farmville crops, all while warm and clad in head-to-toe leopard print! Thank you, Scott Boilen, for all you've done for us.

I saw this thing at Westfarms. I'm scared to comment, because I'm not entirely sure what its supposed to be. Any thoughts?

More Coffee Awesomeness: JoJo's Coffee and Tea

Stuck downtown? Cold? Undercaffeinated?

Look no further than JoJo's Coffee and Tea. They have two locations, one in Hartford and one in New Haven. I don't know New Haven well enough to know their coffee situation, but in Hartford, good ANYTHING is hard to come by.

JoJo's roasts their own beans so the coffee is extremely fresh and way delicious. The atmosphere is that of a typical coffeeshop, a few tables, a few couches, a piano (for some reason) and friendly staff. You almost feel like you're in a real city! There is some outdoor seating as well, looking over scenic Pratt Street. If you haven't been there, it is a quaint little block in downtown Hartford, paved in brick. There are a few good bars and restaurants around, and sometimes they play weird music over the street. I'm not really sure who "they" are, or if they still do it, but it was pretty awesome.

Back to JoJo's. They have the banginest coffee in town, as well as the best hot chocolate possibly in the entire world. I can only describe it as heavenly. They also have homemade granola and granola bars, both bangin, and some other various pastries and sandwiches. They close a little on the early side (5pm in the Hartbeat), so get down there! And let us know how the New Haven spot is...

Check them out at:

22 Pratt Street
Hartford, CT


1177 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT

And seriously... get the hot chocolate.

Litchfield: Bohemian Pizza

Only a fool would drive all the way out to Litchfield on a retardedly cold day and not cap off the excursion with a meal at Bohemian Pizza. The quirky shop oozes all kinds of aesthetic charm, with walls plastered in old album covers and other kitsch, a good sized aquarium full of creepy black sucker fish, and a fireplace in the center of the dining room. But that's just the icing - the food is orgasmically good, and I have fantasized about it on more than one occasion since my only other visit there some two years ago...

Check out this caramelized pear salad - it's basically like a pie on greens. With warm, gushy, sweet pears, almond slices and gorgonzola cheese atop a bed of mesclun.

And then there was this pizza, the "Criss Cross," generously - gratuitously even - topped with sausage, chicken, caramelized onions, portabello mushrooms and great hunks of roasted garlic. Am I going to be sweating garlic for days? Yes. But... no regrets.

Bohemian Pizza also features a fine booze list that I didn't tap on this trip, an adjacent bar, and sometimes live music.

Almost Phoenix

Phoenix Records in Waterbury was a key music shopping point for me, especially during the late 90s, when it was the only place to go to buy (and discuss with a panel of experts) albums by then obscure and poorly distributed European metal bands. And later, as my tastes evolved, the only place to go to trade insults and indie rock recommendations with adorable Damon Marzano, who co-owned the store for years after buying out the eccentric entity known as The Professor (who was that guy?).
I heard from Phoenix partner Karl a while back that he was moving the store to Litchfield, but since I don't really have a "music budget" at the moment, and have enjoyed loads of free shit over the past several years as a music journalist, I hadn't checked in for a long time, or got the memo about Damon moving across the country. : (

Today I visited Karl's shop in Litchfield, which I hesitate to call "Phoenix Records" because Karl hesitates to call it that, though I think this self-denial is counterproductive, because what if I'm not the only one who was looking for the store? Point is, nobody really buys music anymore, and most of Karl's current business is stereo equipment sales under the name Puretone Audio. Nevertheless, the store still has racks of CDs, including metal and indie sections, and loads of interesting looking vinyl, new and old. And it's still messy. And you can enjoy a chat with Karl about how much Connecticut sucks for live music - more than ever before in his estimation. So if you want to buy some actual physical musical product the old fashioned way, why would go anywhere else but to this fine independent business?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Fairwell, sweet DWILF

Sexiest Dr. Who incarnation ever, David Tennant, appears as the Doctor for a final time in the special episode "The End of Time Part II," which airs on BBC America this weekend. I don't really know if I can watch anymore after that. Next Doctor Matt Smith is awfully young, and kind of funny looking, and not as nattily dressed. I have to look at shabby, awkward, unfit people every day IRL, so I get a little thrill when the TV puts something sexy in front of me - especially someone like the Doctor, who isn't just cute, but clever too (and witty and magical, etc.). As you can see from the picture (bottom center, as if that needed to be explained), Tennant is basically the only DWILF in the succession of actors to take on the role, at least in an official, cannonic capacity.

As I understand it, sexy Peter Cushing played a character named "Dr. Who" who wasn't exactly the Doctor in two movies. And, pardon my Star Wars fetish, yeah, I wouldn't mind receiving a little discipline from the Grand Moff.

The Doctor has been fleetingly portrayed in a special by the best of British Grants, Hugh and Richard E., who are both rather dashing in their own ways, and need to be in more and better films.

Anyway, BBC America is saying goodbye to to David Tennant all weekend long with Dr. Who marathons leading up to the special which airs tomorrow night at 8:30 & 11:30. Apparently Tennant has filmed a pilot for American television that sounds totally awful (a lawyer with panic attacks coaches his clients to defend themselves, ugh). Hopefully that won't get picked up and he can do something better. But then, this stupid culture made Monk a hit, so people will watch all kinds of inconceivably dumb crap about people with adorable disorders, won't they? Personally, I'd like to see him starring opposite myself in a mumblecore romance, or if that can't be arranged, as Withnail in a highly unnecessary shot-for-shot remake of Withnail and I, since this is the age of the highly unnecessary remake.

Meanwhile, enjoy this ridiculous tribute.